A 1930’s Morecambe home with history.
A real life story
I’m an Estate Agent and by my own admission a nosey one too. I believe to be successful in this industry you need to know about the home you are selling. In many ways I feel it is like buying a car. Surely you would want to know the full service history of the vehicle so why should a house be any different?
A house will also cost most people a lot more money. With careful questioning most clients are able to give me at least the information I require, you know the type of question. How old is the house? When did the windows get replaced? Is the boiler serviced annually? And so on. 10 Lonsdale Road, however was able to give me considerably more, starting with the original sales brochure and ever so quickly I found myself becoming rather fascinated by this unassuming 1930’s home and it’s former owner.
Built by Russell Bros the original sales brochure describes a beautiful, substantial, modern, labour saving house. The brochure details the finer points of the design from double bays to the front, ornamental arches in the drawing room and dining room, the plaster cornice and chromium plated taps and fittings. A house of distinction!
They are not wrong, this beautiful semi detached home today requires some modernising but offers a fantastic opportunity for todays “modern family” to work with the original features, so well looked after, and create their own modern home of distinction. Briefly the ground floor offers a covered porch with black and white tiles, hallway, two reception rooms (the rear being the only updated feature with upvc double glazing and a french door), kitchen, coal store and wash room. Upstairs are three bedrooms, the bathroom and a separate wc. Outside there are gardens to the front and rear, a driveway to the side and detached garage with feature doors originally from the old Halifax Building Society on Morecambe’s Promenade.
The home was purchased by Mrs Helena Cassandra Rhodes (nee Brown) in February 1938 for the sum of £695. By this time Helena was a widow having lost her husband Bernet during the war years.
Helena was born in Morecambe in the early 1900’s. She attended Miss Nelson’s school in Peddar Street, Morecambe having 100% attendance record for which she was very proud. In later years (1917-1919) she went on to study in Leeds at the Leeds City Training College and became qualified as a certified teacher for Public Elementary Schools from the 1st August 2019. Included in her studies were Hygiene, physical training, theory of music and singing, reading and recitation, needlework, English and geography. She passed Advance Music with credit.
Not long after finishing her studies Helena met and married Bernett Rhodes, an Engineer and together they set up the family home in Erith, Kent. His work however soon took him to New Zealand (1921) initially leaving his wife at home. She however joined him in February 1922 travelling on the S.S “Remuera” in the 2nd saloon. The ship departed Southampton for Auckland travelling via the Panama Canal and was thought to be a long way for a lady to travel alone in those days. The journey time would have been approximately 50 days. Mr and Mrs Rhodes continued to live in New Zealand for 3 years before returning to England in 1925 on the P&0 ship Comorin.
We are unsure at what point Helena lost her husband or indeed how, only that she returned as a widow to Morecambe in the late 1930s and lived briefly with her mother before buying No10 Lonsdale Rd in February 1938. In this era it was exceptionally unusual for a woman to buy a house by herself. Buyers of properties were predominately male. The mortgage advert from the Skipton Building Society even states ” Rent is the money you pay for the privilege of occupying another mans house “. We are of course informed by Helena’s family, that Helena was by far not a usual woman!
And so Helena Cassandra Rhodes moved into a modern new Russell Bros home. We know from both the original sales particulars and the home as it stands today, that these home were offered with a hi-specification. We know the layout is as it was when it was built by the floor plans the builders produced. We can only imagine the pleasure she felt having a luxury bathroom with the latest square bath and a separate indoor wc. Or the fact that she had a separate wash-house to the kitchen ( which had a combined kitchen cupboard ) and both a scullery and larder. She even had a large airing cupboard, something which many modern build homes built today lack. We can also only imagine that this exciting purchase must have been tinged with some sadness having to buy this beautiful home without her husband by her side.
Helena continued to teach at Euston Rd School, Morecambe until her retirement. She became an accomplished pianist accompanying many local choirs. She also played as a soloist at various country dancing events. Despite being widowed, she never lost her desire for her adventure going regularly on tours of Europe by coach. She also became a talented seamstress making many of her own clothes. Helena’s family tells us she particularly enjoyed sewing in her sunny back garden at Lonsdale Rd.
Helena sadly died in the mid 1980’s. The property 10 Lonsdale Rd passed to her niece with whom she had been living with during the latter part of her life. The home has stood empty since for over 20 years cared for by the family and neighbours and we are proud to say it has stood safe and secure, a testament to the area and local residents.
The story has been told to us by Mrs Patricia Milner, niece.
Such was the interest in this home that the property was sold by JDG Estate Agents, Morecambe in just two days. http://www.jdg.co.uk